First, how big is your property? A serious utility-scale solar farm should be at least 40 acres.
Second, how close is your property to transmission? Your property should either have transmission on site or be extremely close.
Third, does your state have an RPS (Renewable Portfolio Standard)? An RPS forces public and private utilities to produce a high percentage of the power they produce through renewables? Most of the Southwestern States do. For information on whether or not your state has an RPS, visit www.dsireusa.org.
Forth, is your property in an area that has enough sun hours to support a solar farm? To see how many sun hours per day your property soaks up, visit this website and type in your address. The more sun hours, the more production potential your property has.
Finally, how friendly is your municipality to renewable energy? Most cities, States and counties have been embracing green energy. If yours does, then you’ve got a good shot at leasing your land for a solar development.
Skybridge Solar is continually leasing land for utility-scale solar farms. Please respond to this blog if you have land that fits the parameters above or fill out our information questionnaire on this website.
Energy Tax Law Alert: Energy-Related Tax Proposals in President’s 2012 Budget
The Obama Administration last week released its proposed budget for 2012 , which includes a number of revenue proposals that would have a direct impact on the financing of renewable energy projects. Some of the more significant proposals are described below.
Extension of Grant in Lieu of Tax Credits
The proposal would extend through 2012 the grant in lieu of tax credits for qualifying renewable energy projects. The grant was originally enacted as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). In its original form, the grant applied only to projects that were placed in service in 2009 or 2010, or projects for which construction began before the end of 2010 if they are placed in service prior to the relevant investment tax credit termination date (January 1, 2013 for large wind projects; January 1, 2014 for biomass, trash, marine, and certain other facilities; and January 1, 2017 for solar, geothermal, fuel cell, microturbine, combined heat and power, small wind, and geothermal heat pump facilities). The Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 extended the deadline for beginning construction through 2011. Under the President’s proposal, a project would qualify for the grant if (i) it is placed in service before January 1, 2013 or (ii) construction begins before January 1, 2013 and the project is placed in service before the relevant credit termination date. The President’s budget proposal does not extend the currently effective credit termination dates.
For further discussion of the grant and the prior extension.
Additional Tax Credit for Qualified Advanced Energy Manufacturing Projects
The proposal would authorize an additional $5 billion of credits for investments in eligible property used in qualifying advanced energy manufacturing projects. ARRA authorized a total of $2.3 billion in advanced energy manufacturing credits and established a competitive application process for receiving allotments of credits. Fewer than one-third of the applicants for the original allotment received any credit. Under the proposal, there would be an additional two-year period for applying for allotments of the additional $5 billion in credits.
The amount of the credit for any qualifying project is 30% of the cost of eligible property in a qualifying advanced energy project. A qualifying advanced energy project is any project that re-equips, expands, or establishes a manufacturing facility for the production of (i) property designed to produce energy from renewable resources, (ii) fuel cells, microturbines, or an energy storage system for use with electric or hybrid-electric vehicles, (iii) electric grids to support the transmission and storage of intermittent sources of renewable energy, (iv) property designed to capture and sequester carbon dioxide emissions, (v) property designed to refine or blend renewable fuels or to produce energy conservation technologies, (vi) certain electric-drive motor vehicles and components, and (vii) other advanced energy property designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Eligible property generally is depreciable tangible property that is necessary for the production of the above-listed property and that is used as an integral part of a qualifying facility.
For further discussion of the advanced energy manufacturing credit.
Replacing Deduction for Energy-Efficient Commercial Building with Tax Credit
The proposal would replace the existing deduction for energy-efficient commercial building property with a tax credit. Existing law allows a deduction for up to $1.80 per square foot for expenditures for qualified energy-efficient commercial building property. This includes property that is certified as being installed as part of a plan designed to reduce the total energy and power costs with respect to the interior lighting, heating, cooling, ventilation, and hot water systems of a building by 50% or more in comparison to a reference building that meets the minimum requirements of ASHRAE/IESNA Standard 90.1-2001. Partial deductions are allowed for certain specified property that does not achieve a 50% energy savings.
The proposal would replace the existing deduction with a credit equal to the total cost of qualifying property. The proposal also would impose a less stringent energy savings requirement. Under the proposal, property would qualify for the credit if it is certified as being installed as part of a plan designed to reduce the total annual energy and power costs with respect to the interior lighting, heating, cooling, ventilation, and hot water systems of a building by 20% or more in comparison to a reference building that meets the minimum requirements of ASHRAE/IESNA Standard 90.1-2004. The amount of the credit would be limited to (a) $0.60 per square foot in the case of energy-efficient commercial building property designed to reduce total annual energy and power costs by at least 20% but less than 30%, (b) $0.90 per square foot for qualifying property designed to reduce total annual energy and power costs by at least 30% but less than 50%, and (c) $1.80 per share foot for qualifying property designed to reduce the total annual energy and power costs by 50% or more. In addition, the proposal would treat property as meeting the 20%, 30%, and 50% energy savings requirements if certain specified prescriptive standards are satisfied. The credit also would be allowed to benefit a REIT or its shareholders. The credit would be available for property placed in service during calendar year 2012.
For additional discussion of the current deduction for energy-efficient commercial building property.
Extension and Expansion of New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC)
The NMTC for investments in low-income communities, which has been used in conjunction with tax credits for renewable energy projects in qualified locations, is set to expire at the end of 2011. The proposal would extend the NMTC for one additional year with a total allocation amount of $5 billion. The proposal also would allow NMTC amounts resulting from qualified equity investments made after December 31, 2010 to offset alternative minimum tax liability.
Expansion of Research and Experimentation (R&E) Tax Credit
The proposal would make permanent the R&E tax credit, which currently is set to expire at the end of 2011. The R&E credit generally is 20% of qualified research expenses above a base amount for taxpayers that engaged in research between 1984 and 1988. Alternatively, a taxpayer can elect to claim the “alternative simplified research credit,” which is 14% of qualified research expenses that exceed 50% of the taxpayer’s average qualified research expenses for the three preceding taxable years. The proposal would increase the rate of the alternative simplified research credit from 14% to 17% of qualifying expenses, effective beginning in 2012.
Qualified Plug-in Electric-Drive Motor Vehicle Credit
The proposal would allow the seller of a qualified vehicle, rather than the purchaser, to claim the qualified plug-in electric-drive motor vehicle credit. Under current law, a taxpayer who places a qualified vehicle in service is entitled to a credit of $2,500 plus $417 for each kilowatt-hour of battery power in excess of four kilowatt-hours, up to a maximum total credit of $7,500. The credit phases out for a manufacturer’s vehicles over four calendar quarters beginning with the second calendar quarter following the quarter in which 200,000 of the manufacturer’s credit-eligible vehicles have been sold. Under the proposal, the person selling the vehicle (or, at the election of the seller, the person financing the sale) would be entitled to the credit if the seller clearly discloses the amount of the credit to the purchaser. The change would be effective for vehicles sold after December 31, 2011.
Carried Interests in Investment Partnerships
The proposal would tax as ordinary income a partner’s share of income from an “investment services partnership interest” in an investment partnership, regardless of the character of the income at the partnership level. In addition, the proposal would require the partner to pay self-employment taxes on such income and would characterize as ordinary income any gain recognized on the sale of an interest in the partnership.
An investment services partnership interest would be defined generally as any carried interest in an investment partnership that is held by a person who provides services to the partnership. A partnership would be treated as an investment partnership if a majority of its assets are investment-type assets (such as securities and real estate interests). The proposal would be effective for tax years beginning after December 31, 2011.
Although the carried interest proposal is not directly aimed at partnerships holding renewable energy projects, it may apply in a number of circumstances. For example, if a partnership is formed to make investments in one or more entities holding and operating renewable energy projects, and if the manager or sponsor of the partnership receives a carried interest, the proposal could cause the manager’s or sponsor’s allocable share of income from the partnership that would otherwise be characterized as capital gain to be characterized as ordinary income.
Elimination of Fossil Fuel Preferences
To raise revenue to offset the revenue that would be lost from the proposed tax incentives, the President’s budget proposes to eliminate a number of oil and gas and coal tax preferences, including the following:
IRS Circular 230 notice: Any tax advice contained herein was not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by you or any other person (i) in promoting, marketing or recommending any transaction, plan or arrangement or (ii) for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed under federal tax law.]]>
If this becomes a reality, solar will play a pivotal roll in picking up the day time peak load where the most expensive electricity will become even more expensive. One can’t help but think that smart sources, solar and storage will be the only cost defense a common electricity customer will have against rapidly rising prices. Solar will defend in the daytime summer peak hours and devices and programs designed to recognize off peak pricing will automatically “download” power to storage devices to be used during hours of peak pricing for charging EV’s and the like.
An old timer once told me that the reason he wanted to live to be one hundred was simply to see what exciting things humans will do next. Extremely high electricity prices probably won’t make his list of exciting things. What we do with the challenge of providing that electricity with clean sources and new tech certainly will!]]>
Both are government sponsored and have loads of capability including photovoltaic and concentrating systems, wind, geothermal and energy efficiency measures. The first is from NREL (The National Renewable Energy Laboratory) and is called SAM (System Advisor Model) and is available for Mac & Windows. The second is called Retscreen International, a Windows-only package built by the Canadian government. Both have selectable sun hour data from various sources and include financial calculations built beyond common man capability.
Of course, you could spend some dollars by purchasing a program like CPFTools, Ongrid or PVsyst, but before you do, give the free programs like SAM a whirl. You’ll be surprised at what they offer for the price!]]>
Where batteries use a chemical reaction to store energy, the actual heat from the oil that CSP produces can be stored in molten salt. Molten salt has the ability to retain the heat generated from CSP for hours after the sun goes down. Molten salt storage plants are not just a concept either, in fact, Abengoa Solar from Spain is building a 250MW CSP plant in Gila Bend, AZ approximately 70 miles southwest of Phoenix with the use of $1.45 Billion in government loan guarantees. The project uses 2 molten salt storage tanks to store heat after the sun goes down for up to six hours. 75% of the components of this system will be made in the USA. Stay tuned for updates on other storage technology for renewable energy.]]>
This chart shows module pricing on the retail level…what Joe weekender would pay for a watt if he walked up to the counter and bought 1 panel. What it doesn’t show is the price a utility scale developer might pay for thousands of panels which is closer to $1.60 believe it or not! And thin film solar these days, under a buck a watt!
The most common underestimation effecting the true price calculation of solar, is TOU, a little acronym that utility companies hope you never hear about. TOU, or Time Of Use charges, are significant increases in the price you pay per kilowatt hour for electricity during certain times of the day during certain months of the year. The most expensive TOU is during the middle of summer between the hours of roughly 11am and 6pm when every Tom, Dick and Harry has his AC cranked. Fortunately, solar is producing its peak power production during those same hours of TOU! So, if you’re paying $.40/kwh during TOU in the summer with a coal producing power plant and solar can do it for free, you might want to rerun the numbers!]]>
Is there a catch? No, but there are some important details that a solar developer will be looking for. Typically a flat piece of ground is best with excellent sun hours. Also, the system needs to be connected to the power grid, so the property will need to be located with power lines either on the property or very near.
If your property fits such a description, leave a comment below and someone from Skybridge Solar will get in touch with you. Or fill out our handy contact form located under the Development tab titled Land Sellers and Lessors.]]>
Help get the word out that American tax payers are smarter then Big Lobby gives them credit for. Why wouldn’t Dirty Energy lobby against clean sources? Look what they stand to lose. Billions! That’s right, billions are going into dirty energy subsidies. Call your congress men and women and let them know where your vote will go if they continue to support Dirty Energy subsidies. Our children and their children will look at our decisions and won’t be able to use the excuse that “Our parents just didn’t have enough information”. It’s time to be responsible for our environment and the tax dollars that belong to all of us.
Also mentioned in the article is an excellent piece done by Washington Monthly entitled “Get the Energy Sector off the Dole”]]>
CPV or “Concentrating Photovoltaics” is a cross between traditional concentrating solar (CSP) with its mirrored troughs and towers and traditional Photovoltaic panels. CPV panels, such as those being manufactured by companies like Solar Junction and SolFocus, use a group of small fresnel type lenses to focus sunlight onto highly efficient tiny silicon type cells. The result is concentrating CSP efficiency at a fraction of the cost. Oh and no water, a necessary traditional CSP requirement which is a bit of a “catch 22″ in the solar business. Traditional CSP uses heat to boil water and spin a turbine, and CSP is usually developed in desert regions that certainly lack water.
Developers like Skybridge Solar are excited to see, hear and report on the latest hurdles being overcome in the efficiency game. Efficiency and storage will certainly be some of the technological developments necessary to finally overtake fossil fuel burning energy production. Taking over the world electricity market using Photovoltaic technology to replace a lump of coal will take time. We can certainly point to a myriad of technologies that were cost prohibitive the day they were discovered. But, in retrospect, modern man should be able to beat the time it took the Neanderthal to move from burning a chunk of wood to burning a lump of coal. Then again, modern man is still subsidizing fossils. Not very modern!]]>